My practice is writing a 250 word essay every day; not a research paper, not a novel, and not a book review. While that might not seem like much of a distinction, it’s important for me to keep in mind, because if I don’t remember what my practice is I will quickly get lost in what it isn’t.
I want my reading to inform my writing, but not dictate it. I want my interests to guide my research, but take care that my research doesn’t kill my interest.
One of the pitfalls of deliberate practice is that we can be so concerned about practicing the right way that we lose sight of the practice itself. That is, I’d rather listen to Dory (Finding Nemo) and keep on swimming than stop swimming because I might not be swimming the “right” way.
The last few days I’ve been trying boil down an enormous tomb of research into a 250 word essay. It totally put the brakes on my writing. I want to continue chewing on that tomb, and hopefully it will inform my future posts, but I can’t stop writing just because I haven’t digested it yet.
I have to continually remind myself what the heart of my practice is and make sure I do that core every single day. One of my favorite books is The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. He elegantly and hilariously describes this inner struggle with resistance, the greatest obstacle to practice. And nothing is more important or difficult than sitting down to practice that thing we’ve been called to do every single working day…one of the strangest ironies of life.